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Maryland’s ‘queen’ of charter fishing

The 65-foot Island Queen, out of Kent Narrows, offers family tradition with its fishing

The 65-foot Island Queen, out of Kent Narrows, offers family tradition with its fishing

A page from out of the past is reenacted daily with quiet dignity and tradition when Capt. Eldridge Meredith heads his 65-foot wooden headboat, Island Queen, out of Kent Narrows, Md., on fishing charters.

Most of his anglers are loyal and steadfast, who prefer to fish with Meredith because he has followed the water and knows it like his father, Capt. Earl, and grandfather, Capt. Richard, who also were Kent Island watermen.

His boat, built 26 years ago in North Carolina for the fishing trade, has a main and an upper deck, and can accommodate 110 anglers. They come mostly from Washington and Baltimore and the surrounding area.

“We anchor and bottom fish,” he says. “Mostly, we catch sea trout, spot, perch and rockfish. We used to catch a lot of croakers but they are all fished out by commercial netters in the lower Bay and none get up here in the middle to upper Bay anymore. Soon there will be no croakers left down there, either.”

The boat leaves from a little private dock on Wells Cove in Grasonville at 7 a.m. and returns around 3 p.m. Meredith supplies all the equipment needed (bait, tackle and ice) except for coolers in which to bring the catch home. First mate on the boat is his grandson, Cornell Robertson.

Headboat rates are $40 for adults, $30 for seniors and $25 for children under 12. During the summer Meredith operates evening weekend cruises, departing at 6 and returning at 9 p.m.

The anglers gather and park their cars at daybreak at Meredith’s Seafood Restaurant, a small two-room eatery at 3227 Main Street, just across from the boat dock. Some of the letters on the low red roof were blown off last September during Tropical Storm Isabel, which also flooded the restaurant.

Many overlook the family-run restaurant there operated by Meredith’s wife, Margaret, and two daughters, Sheilah and Rita Meredith. Grandson Cornell also helps out. The Merediths live next door.

The restaurant — a simple, workmanlike place with no frills — specializes in seafood, barbecued ribs, pork chops, chitterlings and pigs’ feet.

Depending on weather and fishing conditions, Meredith heads south out of Kent Narrows and into Eastern Bay or north to Love Point at the mouth of the Chester River, fishing areas north of the Bay Bridge.

“November should be good for big rockfish, white perch and trout,” says Meredith, who will continue taking out parties into early December until he ties up the boat and shuts down for the season.

For information call (410) 827-7737 or (410) 827-8541.